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NorthWestern Energy’s ‘historic’ rate increase request

The week before the Public Service Commission was set to hold a hearing on NorthWestern Energy’s proposed $120 million electricity and natural gas rate increase, the utility company announced it had reached a settlement agreement with four parties previously opposed to its proposal. As a result, Montana’s elected, all-Republican utility board spent much of last week reviewing that settlement agreement in an occasionally tense public hearing rather than combing through the details of NorthWestern’s initial proposal to raise residential electricity rates by 25% and natural gas base rates by about $14 million, as previously planned.